£1 million property upgrade


ANGUS Housing Association (AHA) on Thursday handed over the keys to a newly refurbished cottage at 29 The Steading, Hospitalfield, Arbroath, to tenant Peter McKay (39).

And the move was the first step in a £1 million investment programme which will see properties on the site brought up to modern energy efficiency standards.

With winter nearly upon us, Peter is now able to look forward to the prospect of far more manageable fuel bills in his one-bedroom, self-contained cottage.

This is because his new home is part of a major refurbishment of the historic Grade B listed buildings at Hospitalfield.

Originally converted into housing by the Association 20 years ago, Hospitalfield Farm Steading, while in a beautiful location, has sometimes proved difficult to let due to a high concentration of bedsit flats and the poor energy efficiency of the old farm buildings.

Both of these problems are now being tackled head on. New house layouts are being put in place as bedsits are integrated into larger homes and to ensure energy efficiency is improved, insulation standards are being dramatically improved.

Current SAP ratings for energy efficiency range between 21 to 45 but after the installation of insulation to walls, roofs and floors along with double glazing and a modern, efficient central heating system, these ratings are being improved to between 80 to 90. At 29 The Steading, this has cost £30,000 for one small house.

In November, a contract worth £256,000 will start on site to convert five bedsits and a small one-bedroom flat into three family homes and a reasonably sized one-bed flat. Consultations have already been held with all of the current tenants at Hospitalfield and last week many of them visited the completed house at 29 The Steading to view the standard of improvements they will be getting in their new homes.

Further phases of improvements will be carried out during the next two years and when all work is complete and all tenants have a new home that meets their needs, more than £1 million will have been invested in the overall refurbishments.

Speaking after handing over the keys to Mr. McKay, housing association director, Bruce Forbes said: “It gives me great pleasure to see this project progressing so well. Hospitalfield Farm Steading needs to be retained with a practical use if it is to be preserved in the longer term.

“This has, however, been difficult to plan for as the costs of bringing buildings like this up the Scottish Housing Quality Standard aren’t cheap. The Scottish Government is now consulting on an improved Energy Efficiency Standard and we have anticipated this by maximising the amount of insulation we could in our improvements.

“This is only right as the ever increasing cost of heating their homes is the biggest pressure faced by most of our tenants.”

He concluded: “We do not, however, have the resources to keep retro-fitting our older stock to higher standards while at the same time cross subsidising new build homes from our reserves. The Scottish Government needs to address this quickly by restoring reasonable subsidy levels for new construction or the supply of new build homes will dry up.”